How Not to Spread Yourself [or Your Peanut Butter] Thin

How Not to Spread Yourself [or Your Peanut Butter] Thin

Preface

About a year ago, I started a new job. It wasn’t the exact position I wanted or originally applied for at this company, but it was a job in the nutrition field nonetheless. I was excited to get my feet wet and gain experience all while making money and contributing to my family financially. I also registered for two summer classes- Microbiology and Basic Chemistry. I thought to myself, “Great! I’ll work my ass off and save over the summer while knocking out a couple of classes”. In addition, I also signed up for a remote summer internship.

Sounds admirable, right? Well, after 3-4 weeks of working and going to class every single day, I came to the unideal conclusion that I had absolutely no time for the internship, let alone a social life or enjoying summer in Chicago with my husband and two pups (the 3 months us natives cherish). Not only did I have little to no free time, but I didn’t have a day off between work, classes, studying and homework for 2 months straight. Being the sensitive person I am, I fell into a deep depression (of which I won’t share the intimate details about, but it was one of the worst bouts I have ever experienced). Having limited time to exercise and partake in self care rituals only exacerbated this dark time in my life. I felt utterly defeated.

At first, I tried my best to internalize these “blues” and normalize my routine. After all, I had been the one to apply for the job and register for classes. It was MY responsibility to see them through and to carry my own weight. I already felt like I failed with throwing in the towel at my internship, so there was no way I was going to say decline additional work shifts or skip class. That just wasn’t an option in my stubborn mind. I stuck this brutal schedule out at the expense of my deteriorating mental health, and even my physical health. The stress had caused me to relapse with my disordered eating patterns. In hindsight, I think it was the only way for me to feel in control at the time. I barely made it through the summer, but when I did, I vowed to NEVER spread myself that thin again.

I added this preface to the article to share my first hand experience, in the hopes of being more relatable, and to let you know that you are not alone. Work addiction, work exhaustion, and work-related stress can be prevented and managed. There is hope. Allow me to help you begin navigating your way to a healthier and happier you while still maintaining success in the office.

How Not to Spread Yourself [Or Your Peanut Butter] Thin

As the title implies, not many people desire to be overworked and undernourished, in any sense of the definitions. This combination can be detrimental to our health, and it is quite unnatural for us as humans to self-induce exhaustion. We need rest and proper nourishment to regenerate and grow, and this starts on a cellular level.

Unfortunately, today’s world (at least in America) instills social pressure to be the most productive, successful in terms of career hierarchy and financial income, and the best at every single thing we do. There are only 24 hours in every day, and there are only 7 days per week…we know this. So how do we keep up with the demands of our families, jobs, and schoolwork while simultaneously enjoying life?

One way to approach this chronic epidemic of overworking is to simply ignore the “norms” of society and ask yourself, “What do I need that I am not receiving?”. If you are a husband, a wife, a mother, or a father, you need to take care of yourself first and foremost in order to optimize your duties as a spouse or parent. Some may call this selfish, but I call it an intelligent plan on action. If the answer to your question is clear, further explore how you can achieve what you so crave. Do you need a little more alone time? Do you need a date night with your significant other? What about indulging in a long lost hobby you no longer make time for? Whatever is missing, figure out how to incorporate that into your life.

Secondly, recognize that we as humans are very similar biologically, but our mental, emotional, social, psychological, and physical thresholds vary. You, and only you, know your true limits, so listen to your body’s cues. Do you feel physically fatigued? Then rest and get some sleep. Do you feel emotionally or mentally drained? Reenergize the best way you know how. Give yourself and your body what it needs and deserves. Only then can you optimally function and perform, in life and at work.

Thirdly, are you participating in self care on a basic level? What I mean by this is are you kindly allowing yourself to drink enough water, get ample sleep, and eat nutritious food (and not only nutritious food, but enough food)? Do you exercise 2-3 times/week? The exercise doesn’t have to be extreme, but movement has been proven to enhance organ function, sharpen clarity and cognitive processes, and improve your mood. Going for a  walk after you eat lunch at work will suffice and get your blood pumping, help you digest the food you just ate, and energize you for the second half of your shift. Another way to ensure health and performance is to eat enough calories in appropriate servings and macronutrient ratios. Don’t fear the fat or carbs! You need both for energy and many other functionalities. I used to stress about eating too much nut butter, but now I simply practice intuitive eating and eat as much damn peanut butter as I my body wants. 😉

A fourth thing to consider is the amount you have on your plate (no pun intended). I am a serial overcommitter, so I am far too familiar with this one. Ask yourself, “What do I want my work/life balance ratio to look like?”. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans work an average of 34.5 hours per week. That is less than most Americans think they work. Work is called work for a reason, and some days and weeks seem longer and more demanding than others. However, after subtracting the time we sleep (I accounted for 8 hours per night- 56) and the average work hours of 34.5/week, we still have 77.5 hours leftover. Sure, many of those hours are reserved for cleaning, doing laundry, running errands, and carting the kids arounds, BUT there are hours the individual takes for granted and doesn’t realize he or she actually has. Do yourself a favor and record what one regular week looks like for you to better assess how you spend your time. Perhaps you can tweak or adjust your activities and productivity after taking a better look. This includes scaling it back if you need to, and accepting that it is OKAY to QUIT anything you’ve previously committed to if it’s affecting your health to any extent!

The last thing I will leave you with is to find your purpose. Interestingly enough, studies have shown that finding purpose in life leads to contentment while focusing on being happy doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness. Why you ask? For one, if you put too much pressure on being happy, then you automatically take joy out of the equation and are inadvertently self-sabotaging yourself. Viktor Frankl once said, “Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.” You may or may not agree with this quote, but after reading his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”, it clarified the idea of finding purpose before manifesting happiness. Sounds backwards, but trust me that this book makes sense of it all. Many people find purpose in their work, hobby, or as a parent or caregiver. Whatever your purpose is in life, go out and find it- embrace it and don’t lose sight of it.

So let’s review. How can your avoid spreading yourself or your peanut butter too thin?

  1. Figure out what’s missing in your life and make time for it!
  2. Listen to your body’s cues and respond accordingly.
  3. Partake in basic level self care (whatever that means to you). This includes eating as much peanut butter or your idea of indulgent food as your body wants (not what your mind or stress wants).
  4. Figure out your desired work:personal time ratio. Optimize your time.
  5. Find your purpose in life.

As a result of the worst summer of my life, I felt compelled to write this article and help others avoid and manage their work-related stress. I hope these suggestions help make sense of the work demands in America and how we can optimize our time and quality of life while still being successful. Please take care of yourselves- physically, mentally and emotionally. You deserve it, as it’s a basic human right.

XO Danielle

 

Feed Me [Weekly]

Alright everyone, on to week two! As mentioned in week one’s meal plan, I do recommend eating the first meal from each category in one day, as the meal plan is designed to deliver a balance in daily nutrients. I’m already having so much fun creating these plans for you guys, so please feel to make comments or suggestions so I can make this resource the best it can possibly be! I am here to humble myself to my endeavor in acquiring nutrition knowledge and sharing that obtained knowledge with the public in order to lead healthier, happier and more fulfilled lives. I’m excited to hear what you think of this upcoming menu!

Breakfast

Spinach Feta Wrap (Similar to but healthier than Starbucks)

Ingredients: Egg whites, fat-free feta, spinach, and whole wheat tortilla wraps *I also add roasted red peppers, but this isn’t necessary or part of the budget.

Recipe: Whisk egg whites (I use two per wrap). Spray sauté pan with cooking spray and cook over low medium heat until just done (it’s easy to overcook eggs- us Americans do it ALL the time, and it results in a rubbery texture). Sauté spinach in 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat until just wilted. Construct wrap with all of the ingredients, rolling the wrap in a burrito style. Microwave for an additional 45 seconds if fresh to melt the cheese and warm the tortilla. You can also toast the wrap if desired. If you choose to freeze these babies for on the go breakfasts, reheat for 2 1/2- 3 minutes in the microwave.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Overnight Oats

Ingredients: Peanut Butter free of additives and low in sugar, rolled oats, almond milk, and cocoa powder. You can also top with dark chocolate chips or chunks or nuts if you want added crunchy texture, and you can add berries if you want a fresh component.

Recipe: Add 1 Tbsp of peanut butter to the bottom of a mason jar. Add 3/4 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup rolled oats, and 1 Tbsp cocoa powder. Mix well and let sit overnight in the fridge. Enjoy in the am!

Lunch

Kale Farro Salad

Ingredients: *I adjusted the ingredient list to fit within the budget, but feel free to follow the original recipe in the Run Fast. Eat Slow Cookbook!

1 bunch kale, almonds or walnuts (whichever is cheaper or your personal preference), 1 lemon, farro, and parmesan. I also add carrots from time to time.

Turkey Wrap

Ingredients: Whole wheat tortillas, turkey slices, spinach, and dijon mustard.

Recipe: Build your wrap with listed ingredients, which are also used in other recipes!

Dinner

Turkey burger and Sweet Potato Fries

Priced at $2.99, I plan on purchasing the Trader Joe’s frozen turkey burgers. They are a non-GMO product, contain 22g of protein, and feed you for 4 meals! Upon researching this product, I came across a suggestion to fry an egg as a topping. I’m definitely going to try that along with adding extra kale or spinach and most likely a shower of sriracha 😉

As for the sweet potato fries, I use the simple recipe from Run Fast. Eat Slow. They are SOOOO good! I like to dip mine in dijon mustard 🙂

Cauliflower Steak with Green Beans

The Minimalist Baker crafts recipes right with few ingredients that pack the most flavor! I did not include the ingredients for the green chutney in the grocery list, but feel free to make it if you’d like! If you’ve never had cauliflower in any form other than florets, well then, you’re in for a treat with these Cauliflower Steaks! As for the green beans, I suggest steaming them to receive the most nutrients, but you may also sauté them in a little butter and coat with Italian breadcrumbs- yummmmm!

Snacks

Apple+Peanut Butter

These snacks are provided from ingredients in other meal recipes! Had to get creative to stay within the budget! If you’re looking for other healthy snack suggestions, I recommend Greek yogurt, low-fat cheese sticks, and Rx bars- just to name a few.

Almonds

Hard boiled eggs

 

Grocery List

  • Eggs $2
  • Spinach $2.50
  • Fat free feta $2.50
  • Whole Wheat Wrap $2
  • Oats $2.50
  • Almond milk $2
  • Peanut butter $2
  • Cocoa powder $1.50
  • Kale $2.50
  • Walnuts OR Almonds $5
  • 1 lemon $0.50
  • Farro $2
  • Parmesan $2.50
  • 2 apples $1
  • Turkey slices $3
  • Dijon $2
  • Turkey patties $3.50
  • 3 sweet potatoes $3
  • Green beans $2
  • 1 head Cauliflower $2.50
  • Cilantro $2
  • Garlic $2
  • Lime $0.50

Total: $51 if all ingredients are needed.